As if taunting our inner child, the pressures of life in general can sometimes make one want to run away from home and escape to a place of quiet solitude or even adventure and fantasy. While running away to join the circus or become a pirate may not be a viable option these days, an escape from reality is possible in Big Sur.

Nestled on rugged coast cliffs and framed by redwood forests and the Pacific Ocean, this Monterey County destination begs the question, “can you come out and play?” Here’s a lineup of key places that let the young at heart run wild in one of TripAdvisor's top-ranking US Destinations.

Grown Up Tree Houses and Forts

Gone are the days of hiding under the bed or making a blanket fort when you need to get away. Say hello to the new breed of adult hide-outs in Big Sur including Treebones Resort. This unique property boasts 16 yurts, five campsites, an ocean view pool, and an outdoor sushi bar. All the better to look for migrating whales or catch the sun setting over the Pacific!

Whether you had a backyard tree house or not, Post Ranch Inn’s tree houses make for a luxurious retreat that ties into the property’s natural surroundings. With wood-burning stoves, deep bathtubs and feather-top king sized beds, you’ll find these tree houses to be all grown up. The Spa at Post Ranch, complete with locally-derived treatments and even a Shaman, is one of many thoughtful touches found here. If you run away to the Post Ranch Inn, don’t miss Sierra Mar, its onsite restaurant with a phenomenal menu featuring organic and seasonal fare.

Bath Time, Only Better

As children, we found ourselves trying to give our parents the slip to avoid bath time. Now, a proper soak in Big Sur’s geothermal hot springs are a relaxing way to release stress. The Japanese hot baths at Ventana Inn & Spa are a fantastic option for adults looking to get into hot water. Ventana’s library speaks volumes to letting go of day-to-day tension, poring through a good book and letting the healing waters work their magic. The hot baths are open daily and nightly, perfect for star gazers. Afterwards, a glass of local Pinot Noir from the adjacent Santa Lucia Mountains makes for a salute to being a grown up runaway.

Adventure awaits at Sykes Hot Springs, deep in the Ventana Wilderness. After a challenging 11 mile hike through 300-foot redwoods, there’s nothing like a soak. This natural pool’s waters are a constant 100 degrees and framed by boulders and ferns.

Ground yourself in a grown up way with a retreat to the Esalen Institute. Known for its healing onsite hot springs and perched on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, this personal retreat venue also offers workshops to get in touch with you human potential.

Feeding Your Inner Child

Foodie hide-outs with an ocean view are not hard to come by in Big Sur. Try Nepenthe, an iconic cliff-perched restaurant that has served poets, artists, vagabonds and visitors for decades. Known for its special-sauced Ambrosia Burger, this establishment’s menu is best enjoyed on the sun bathed patio with to take in sprawling views of the Pacific. Inside, a fireplace and full bar set the stage to take in the great indoors.

Every adult runaway can have dessert with or without eating all their vegetables. But beware! Big Sur’s proximity to amazing local produce tempts travelers to dig into haute vegetarian dishes and hearty salads like Noelle’s Favorite Salad; locally grown mixed greens with apple slices, toasted walnuts, and Roquefort cheese with raspberry vinaigrette, found at the Big Sur River Inn Restaurant.

With so much adventure to dabble in, an appetite is sure to be worked up in Big Sur. Don’t miss Deetjen’s Restaurant for a breakfast fit for a lumberjack in a cozy cabin setting, or grab a stack of the Big Sur Lodge’s famous pancakes before heading out to seize the day.

Search all lodging